The process of deciding on the second location at the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) was completely different. The project there was set-up with an intention to promote and open up a space for cross-species co-creation within a local cultural institution. While searching for the perfect publicly accessible site, we were looking for a space that would resonate to the needs of the bees as well as the children, the local community and visitors of the museum. The first idea was to set up the hive in the public park but there were quite few considerations on potential safety issues.

We decided to search for alternatives. We found a really picturesque and pleasant spot by the river, close to the museum’s garden, where the bees would have an easy access to the water as well as the flowering greenery. Bees need water to dilute honey stores for use in the dry season and to cool the hive in hot weather. After spending few minutes there, a contaminated smell started to infuse the atmosphere of the location and we became aware of the disturbing sound of the electrical generators. Bees can get really irritated by all kinds of loud sounds, from traffic to voices, that is why it is advisable to install the beehives in a calm and protected environment. We moved forward. Circulating around the museum we found few other potential locations, but none of them were pointing to the south-east. It is important for the beehives to stand on this axis as the access to the early light and warmth makes them want to go forage as soon as the morning appears. The longer their day to bring back the pollen and the nectar, the healthier is their family.

In the end we decided to reconsider the location in the park and try to figure out how to prevent the soccer balls, children or the dogs from disturbing bee’s working routine. We asked few mothers sitting in the park how do they use the space. We were curious to know if they think the beehives might be a danger to the kids or kids a danger to the bees or the youth which gathers in the park in the evening times or the rest of the local community. They reassured us by saying that if there is a sign and a symbolic fence, they are not worried about the safety of their children and welcomed the project in the park.

As a part of the BIO25 associated projects two beehives are now standing in the museum’s park where we unexpectedly spotted a beautiful Ailanthus tree community. The tree crowns are doing great job with protecting the hives from the hot summer winds and direct sun light and help stabilise the inner temperature.

Find more instructions on choosing the best hive location here.

NEGOTIATING SAFETY IN PUBLIC SPACES

Next step of setting the location was to figure out the right way to mark the line between the space of the bees within the public space in the park. We were sitting with this question: Is it safe to install the beehives in the public space? Shall we install the fence to prevent the incidents? Is it invasive to install a fence in this public space? If we install the fence, what should it look like? We did not want to impose a restriction or generate a sense of fear among the residents, yet we wanted to inform them to respect and acknowledge the bee activity in the area. We searched for the right material for the fence – wood, ropes, nets … and in the end decided to choose a thinly woven green plastic net which is normally used to cover trees in the orchards to keep the crop safe before the birds. We used the Ailanthus tree trunks as columns around which we wrapped up the net. We created a subtle membrane, which now allows visitors to observe what is happening in the beehives but also symbolically points at the different uses of both spaces. We were inspired by Marjetica’s lecture about working on Soneto community project where she reminds us that the idea of the open public space as a symbol of security and open society comes from the modernist times and is culturally constructed. She talks how the African community taught them about the importance of the fence as a tool to mark the territory. In our case the fence assured protection by raising awareness about the diverse needs and lifestyles between the bee and the human communities. Alongside the net stands a public board with a short explanation about the project and the importance of supporting the bee community in the urban areas.